What is gateway in networking

Assume the following two scenarios –

1. A PC with IP address with subnet mask tries to access a PC with IP address with subnet mask

2. A PC with private IP address with subnet mask tries to access a website on the internet.

In scenario 1, the PC’s are on different networks. In scenario 2, the PC is trying to access a website, which is on the internet, again on a different network. In both the cases, the destination addresses are on different networks. When two systems wishes to communicate and they are on different IP networks, a gateway device is required. A gateway device, in simple terms is a layer 3 device, which is capable of forwarding IP packets. The common misconception is that the gateway device needs to be a router. This is not true. A gateway device can be a Windows server operating system which has the routing service. A linux operating system can also act as a gateway device.


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